Eco and green or wasteful and mean: a lesson in environmental matters for schools
It’s Veganuary, the annual vegan-awareness month growing ever more popular with each passing year. For a rising number of young people, opting for a plant-based diet is an eco-friendly lifestyle choice, comparable to choosing a reusable coffee cup or water bottle. In fact, according to a recent study, over 50% of young people in the UK have tried veganism.
Like never before, we’re avoiding single-use plastic, recycling with a vengeance and exploring new and novel ways of reducing our carbon footprints. Organisations across the country are introducing green initiatives to reduce emissions and instil eco-friendly habits in their employees. In the general election, environmental matters loomed over every debate and discussion. As a country, we’re tackling climate change head on – but what is your school doing to drive change for the next generation?
With young people demanding action, schools are well placed to garner support from their student communities in implementing clean, green habits. It’s a new year, a new decade and time for a new green approach for schools – but where to begin?
It’s been an ethos at the heart of ParentMail for nearly 20 years, but the mantra around reducing paper no longer solely concerns saving money.
Studies show that the average secondary school produces 22kg of waste every year, with primary schools coming in even higher at 45kg per pupil. Much of this waste is paper and card. But why, if paper is recyclable, does this matter?
The environmental impact of paper is far bigger than you might think. From forest to folder to bin, the lifecycle of paper relies on a huge amount of energy and natural resources. 30 million acres of forest are cut annually, with 40% of the worlds commercially-cut timber used for paper production.
While paper in the classroom may be tricky to avoid, habits in the office are easier to change. It’s time to say goodbye to the traditional newsletter and look at the benefits of alternative paper-free solutions, such as instant messaging, digital forms, online payments and more.
Online engagement reduces print and paper-related costs, improves security and strengthens home/school relationships. We no longer rely on snail-mail to stay in touch with friends and family; today, parents expect convenience and reliability when it comes to school communications, too.
Eco-kitchens and canteen waste
How much food are you throwing away, every day, in your canteen? Let us tell you, it’s probably more than you think.
According to recent studies, schools produce over 10% of all non-domestic food waste in England; approximately 123,000 tonnes a year. In terms of your school finances, that’s literally money in the bin.
The environmental impact of food waste is tremendous. Food waste inevitably heads straight to landfill and, as it biodegrades, produces huge amounts of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Planning lunchtimes efficiently is kind on both the school budget and the earth!
Gathering menu choices from parents provides kitchen staff with all the information they need to efficiently manage suppliers and prepare food. With an online payment platform, parents can choose lunch options for their child and make payments ahead of time. Say goodbye to dinner money debt and hello to a less wasteful kitchen culture.
What’s on the menu?
With vegetarian and vegan diets growing in popularity, offering meat-free options is also likely to encourage more uptake in your school canteen. In fact, did you know that a huge 70% of British children want more veggie and vegan options in school?
Plant-based diets have a significantly lower impact on the environment, with livestock and meat production estimated to be responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Many schools have found meat-free meals to be kinder on the purse strings, too!
Survey and share
You have a whole team of supporters and advocates in your parent community – why not use them?
Encouraging parents to take your new green approach home is a great way of increasing impact. From sharing the school run to encouraging reusable water bottles, there is lots to be done at home to tackle the climate emergency.
Parents, too, are likely to have suggestions to grow your positive impact. Utilise your paper-free parent engagement platform to garner support and share surveys to gather parent responses. A green effort is a team effort, so give parents the opportunity to be involved.
A green revolution is in sight! Every effort, no matter how small, can have a huge impact. Together, schools across the UK can fight the war against climate change and enjoy all the benefits today, whilst building a better future for young people. It’s time to make a start – for information on how ParentMail can support you to go paper-free and reduce waste, get in touch today.